Originally published in the King’s Stanley Magazine.
Easter is late this year, almost as late as it can be, but “Better late than never!” as they say.
Imagine for a moment what the world would be like if Easter had never happened. Perhaps it is not that hard because, after all, most people carry on much as normal on Good Friday. It is still a bank holiday, but it is a puzzling day with that apparently strange claim that one crucifixion out of the many thousands carried out under Roman rule was different. It might almost appear as if the crucifixion never happened.
When it comes to Easter Sunday, however, we could say, “Well, we wouldn’t have Easter eggs for a start.” But if we think about it, we wouldn’t have any churches either, nor would we have any Christians. Would they be missed? I think we certainly would miss the buildings, and hopefully also the Christians we know.
In some ways, Easter is like a coin which has two sides: the crucifixion on the Friday and the resurrection on the Sunday. The point of this analogy is that the cross and the resurrection go together; they are inseparable, they take their meaning from each other.
Take, for example, the Christian claim, “I believe Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins.”
That is claiming that a past event conveys something in the present, today, now. We think that what is being claimed starts from the past (Good Friday). If we really think about it though, surely it is the other way around? An experience in the present (of having received forgiveness from the risen Christ) is understood by referring back to Jesus dying on the cross (for us).
In the same way, Christians believe in the resurrection not primarily because they have read about it in the four gospels, but because they have had some sort of experience of the aliveness of Jesus.
This brings us back to churches and Christians. Both often sport or display crosses. They are inanimate, man-made, of wood or metal. Those crosses are essentially dead. Appropriately so, we might add. Jesus really did suffer and die. His body was then sealed in the tomb, dead and gone. Crosses serve as reminders.
Where and how can churches and Christians sport or display the resurrection? How to convey the essential aliveness of Jesus?
One idea is to think of being transparent. Christian worship is meant to be a window through which people catch glimpses of God. Christians need to aim to be people who are “seen through.” Yes, we are seen to be fallible, “sinners,” seen through in that sense but, even so, still a misty window through which people catch sight of the risen Lord Jesus.
So, when it comes to Easter, “Better late than never!” and when people “see through’” those of us who seek to follow Jesus, may they ‘“see through’” us in the second sense to the risen Lord who suffered and died for all.
Easter blessings to all,
Robert Draycott (Rev)